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Greenberg: Fancy Footwork, 4th-Quarter Stops

Posted Nov 4, 2013

No, there are not two Jets teams in parallel universes. In the NFL, inconsistency is almost universal, and that goes for teams both with and without rookie quarterbacks and cornerbacks.

Best Jet: Quinton Coples sniffed out a reverse on fourth-and-inches, then squeezed the last breath out of the scary Brees Monster. Rarely do you see two stops on fourth down by one team in one game. How often are they caused by one player in one fourth quarter?

Best Offensive Jet: Chris Ivory had 139 yards, but that 7.7 average is a clue how many of his 18 carries were busted wide open, including the huge one off the goal line in the second quarter with the Jets trailing, 7-3. Most of his big gains went to the right side, so for our money, the other offensive stars of the game were Willie Colon and Austin Howard.

Biggest Key to the Win: See above. The Saints knew the Jets, crippled at wide receiver, had to run it, yet never sealed the edge until Marty Mornhinweg went too vanilla on the last three series, resulting in two 3-and-outs and Geno Smith's kneeldown.

Best Hole: At the risk of beating a dead horse — the left side of the Saints’ defensive front — it was the hole created by Colon and Howard on Ivory’s 3-yard touchdown run that ended a 22-possession TD drought.

Second-Best Hole: Brees facing fourth-and-19 with 90 yards to go and 1:27 remaining. Let’s see him get out of that one.

Best footwork: On his touchdown, Smith cut back on Saints DE Cameron Jordan faster than even Jet Nation’s mood can swing from week to week. He scored untouched after a very nice play fake.

Second-best footwork: Antonio Cromartie dragged his back leg while intercepting a ball tipped into the air by Nick Toon and stayed in bounds, setting up the touchdown that put the Jets up at the half.

Worst footwork: Cromartie slipped on a 60-yarder to Robert Meachem that set up the Saints' second touchdown. Cro then gave up the touchdown on a box-out by Jimmy Graham — no shame in that one.

Best Hands: Dawan Landry’s on his tip that caused Demario Davis’s interception.

Best Decision: After trying Ivory just on first down at the 4, then settling for a field goal after two passes, Marty Mornhinweg stuck to the ground the next two times in the red zone and two touchdowns resulted. You’ve got to feed the beast.

Next Best Decision: Flanker screen to Greg Salas on third-and-10, just when it looked like the Jets would go 3-and-out on their first second-half possession. The play went for 44 yards, setting up Nick Folk's third field goal.

Best Throw: By Joshua Cribbs to Zach Sudfeld off a direct snap. Reflective of the game plan. Smith threw the ball only 19 times.

Over/Under on Folk’s Next Miss: 2016.

Worst Official's Call: Josh Bush, who replaced Antonio Allen following his apparent concussion, tackled Drew Brees at the waist, with his shoulder, the way they teach it in Pop Warner. Bush still drew a roughing-the-passer penalty for a low hit.

Who Are Those Guys?: Salas had two catches and Sudfeld two after Jeremy Kerley joined Santonio Holmes, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow (PED suspension) on the Jets' incredible shrinking receivers list. Sudfeld was wide open on the Cribbs throw, then outran the containment on a little dumpoff pass for 21 yards to the 3 to set up Smith’s touchdown.

Unsung Heroes: There were 76,957 of them rattling the high-powered Saints into a delay-of-game penalty, a timeout and a false start on the game’s first possession. When New Orleans got the ball back with 1:59 to go, Brees had to go 81 yards against them, too.

Best Reprieve: Ryan Quigley’s after a 34-yard first-quarter punt, when he was run into by Keyunta Dawson. His second kick resulted in a 14-yard net gain over the first.

Greatest Blessing: The bye week, next week, with all these receivers and now Antonio Allen hurt.

Biggest Key to the Rest of the Season: Dee Milliner. The Jets front seven is as good as any in the NFL, and safeties have battled gamely. Antonio Cromartie can — and will — play better. But the biggest difference between losing, 49-9, to a Super Bowl contender last week and beating one this week? Milliner, with six tackles and one pass breakup, was competitive. “You want to bet against me on a defensive player?” said Rex Ryan. “Go for it.”

Second-Biggest Key to the Rest of the Season: Geno Smith. Only one questionable throw, a floater into coverage, saved from an interception in the nick of time by David Nelson. The Jets, who scored 10 points off the Saints’ turnovers, had none themselves. Jets win, almost that simple.

Best Reason to Believe the Jets Will Stop Alternating Wins and Losses: They won’t be playing three of the best teams in the league on consecutive weeks. Of the seven teams remaining on their schedule, only Carolina has a winning record.

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